Abundance, not scarcity, is the problem
Last night, we got home after a ten-hour drive from my parents’ house in eastern Tennessee. We unloaded the car at around 11:30 p.m. and crashed into bed well after midnight.
When we awoke this morning, the scene was depressing as could be for a neat freak like me: The stuff we unloaded from the car stands in piles on the kitchen counters, living room floor, and table.
Or, I should say, in piles on top of the piles we left a week ago when we were rushing to get out of town on time. Tracy was wrapping gifts and left bags and boxes of gift-wrapping supplies in the dining room. The sink was piled up with dishes we quickly rinsed and left behind. Daniel’s toys cluttered the floor all over the house.
And everything is dirty. We didn’t have time to clean before we left. The bathrooms are looking crusty. The floors are looking crumby. Surfaces are looking dusty. The whole place smells musty.
Today (Sunday) is a tiny sliver of time between getting home from a week-long vacation and getting back to work on Monday morning (less than 24 hours from now). Clothes need washing. Groceries need buying. The house needs cleaning. The week ahead needs planning. So much needs to be done and all I want to do is relax and rest.
All of this stuff that needs attention makes me think: I don’t have a scarcity problem; I have an abundance problem.
To be honest, that comes as a surprise to me.
Because I do tend to think a lot about what I don’t have. I do tend to think about how much better my life would be if I could get more: clothes, horsepower, money, storage space, “time-saving” technology, etc.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we need a couple more thousand square feet of space for all of our stuff.
Not us; our stuff.
Sure, those couple-thousand square feet will solve one problem, but they will create others: Debt, maintenance and upkeep costs, tension between Tracy and me, worry over all that extra space and stuff.
I can see it clearly: My problem is not scarcity; it’s abundance.
Abundance is making me poor. It is keeping me in debt, tense in my marriage, and worried all the time. Abundance is squeezing out my health and quality of life. American-style abundance is not freedom; it is slavery.
Worst of all, it is fooling me into believing that the solution to this soul-sickening abundance is…more abundance!
What helped me see that I have an abundance problem? It’s not the conflict in my marriage, our family debt, or the feeling of depression I get when I look at a cluttered, dirty house. Like I said, these things fooled me into believing the solution was to just get more.
What helped me see my abundance problem is the daily practice of gratitude. Since I started keeping a gratitude journal every day, it is amazing how my attitude and outlook on life are changing.
After spending the last 600 days hand-writing tens of thousands of things for which I am grateful, it seems silly and sinful to say to God: “But, you know, what I need is just this one thing more. You’re holding out on me, God!”
You can’t practice gratitude every day and not gain better perspective on your life. You can’t make an inventory of all that you already have and then complain about wanting more.
When you reach that point of being so grateful for the amazing abundance in life, it changes your relationship with your stuff.
Suddenly, you no longer need it as much. It starts to lose its control and its grip on you. You are set free by gratitude to live your life simply and to simply live your life.
Almost two years ago, I set out to start every day filling one page with thanksgiving. It has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life and I will continue this habit as long as I live.
I wonder as 2018 draws near if I can start a new habit: The habit of daily simplicity. The habit of living with less so that I can actually live more.
Scarcity it not my problem; it is abundance.
Gratitude started this journey. Now I’m going to figure out how to go forward practicing simplicity.
Want to try with me?
Onward and upward!